Mom-Sleuthing 101


Want to find out what really happened to grandma's antique vase? Use these tried-and-true techniques from Margot Starbuck.

How you can find out what really happened to grandma's antique vase

When I ask my kids who left a towel on the bathroom floor, a cereal bowl on the kitchen counter, or socks under the couch, the answer never varies: not me. That’s why, in my 15 years of parenting, I’ve carefully honed the art of eliciting incriminating information from my children.

I humbly offer these tried and true techniques that have worked for me:

1. Empathize

“When I was a kid, and stole my brother’s bubble gum, it tasted awesome! You, too?”

2. Mislead

“If no one admits to pouring their spill-proof sippy cup of apple juice onto my laptop, I might have to check the secret video camera files in it . . . ”

3. Bribe

“I would love to give a crisp, green dollar to whoever could figure out how the hamster might have turned green. Anyone?”

4. Co-opt a Sibling

“Sarah, when you and Joey went shopping with Grandma, was he holding his brother’s special tooth fairy silver dollar, or was it in his pocket?”

5. Misuse Science

“I’ve heard that if you wedge a video camera battery into the slot sideways, beyond retrieval, your hand becomes magnetic. Now where’s my magnet . . .”

6. Entrap

“When you hid the iPad behind the couch, was it switched on or off?”

7. Suggest

“Don’t think I won’t take this apple-corer all the way down to the police station for fingerprinting to find out who threw all these apple slices into the garbage!”

8. Flatter

“I am so grateful to know you’re a truth-teller. You’re the kid I can always count on. It helps me sleep at night.”

9. Feign Rationality

“I’m not mad, silly. I didn’t need that old antique vase anyway. I’m really just more curious about how its shattered pieces ended up buried in the cat’s litter box.”

10. Side With Your Child

“Well, of course you stole it! Who wouldn’t?! Whoever left that awesome Lego guy out where you could see it is the real culprit in this mini-figure heist!”

Remember: The next time you’re noodling on who might have stuck 20 of your Maxi Pads to the bathroom wall, the one thing that truly matters is including a good measure of grace with your sleuthing skills!

Written by Margot Starbuck

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